West Ham climb out of drop zone with win against Southampton

The London Stadium played host to a relegation six-pointer between West Ham United and Southampton, with both teams knowing that a win would take them out of the relegation zone. The Saints’ last away trip saw them take a point at Old Trafford, and they would be hoping for equal fortune going into the game against the Irons.

WHU: Fabianski; Emerson, Aguerd, Zouma, Kehrer; Rice, Soucek; Benrahma, Paqueta, Bowen; Ings

SOU: Bazunu; Perraud, Caleta Car, Bednarek, Walker-Peters; Elyounoussi, Lavia, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong; Mara, Walcott

Both sides started the game with some nervous energy, and a tentative start to the game left the West Ham supporters feeling frustrated, leading to some boos ringing round the stadium. Southampton were the side beginning to control the game, with the opening exchanges leaving the Irons camped into their own half. Theo Walcott created the opening chance of the game with a smart half turn volley sailing narrowly wide of the post after fifteen minutes of play.

Ten minutes on, the London side caught the Saints off guard. A free-kick from the right-wing floated in brilliantly by Thilo Kehrer was finished off with a fine header from Nayef Aguerd – the Moroccan rising highest to guide a well-placed header into the bottom right corner. A lengthy VAR checked followed, however to the relief of fans and players, the goal stood.

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The Saints tried answering back immediately, with some good play down the left-hand side. Romain Perraud fizzed a low shot towards goal, though that effort was met with an equally impressive save by Lukasz Fabianski.

Southampton were pressing just before half-time, however the Saints were nearly caught out once more as Jarrod Bowen broke quickly, cutting in from the left-wing onto his right foot, rattling the crossbar with a wonderful effort.

Southampton, knowing they needed to get something out of the game, started the stronger of the two sides in the second half. They created chances through Romeo Lavia, Kamaldeen Sulemana and Carlos Alcaraz. However, West Ham managed to weather the storm, and gradually calmed the game down.

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A period of midfield battle ensued, with West Ham managing to create a few half-chances, before going through their own stage of possession. An impressive Said Benrahma free-kick tested Gavin Bazunu in the Southampton net. The resulting corner fell to Lucas Paqueta inside the penalty area, but the Brazilian couldn’t convert despite an open net.

With the hosts looking to see the game out, the visitors had one more opportunity. A delightful cross from star man James Ward-Prowse found January signing Paul Onuachu. The six-foot-five striker’s header struck the crossbar, and that wasn’t enough as West Ham came away with the victory.

Southampton stay rooted to the bottom of the table, playing host to reigning champions Manchester City next weekend. Meanwhile, West Ham jump to 14th in the table – but they’re not out of the relegation battle just yet.

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